GSK will not contribute to mother and baby homes financial redress

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman to meet with pharmaceutical giant

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes issued its final report earlier this year.

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes issued its final report earlier this year.


Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman is to meet with pharmaceutical giant GSK after the company said it will not make a financial contribution for redress to survivors of mother and baby homes.

Clinical trials involving residents in the homes were carried out using products under development by two “legacy” companies associated with the drugmaker, Glaxo Limited and the Wellcome Foundation.

In March, Mr O’Gorman wrote to the company asking it to consider making reparations arising from the findings of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. It found that the two companies were involved in trials at the homes that did not comply with the standards at the time in relation to securing consent.

However, in a response to Mr O’Gorman, posted on the company’s website, it said that independent researchers conducting the trials were “personally responsible for ensuring they were carried out with the licences, permits, permissions and consents required under Irish law and practice at the time”.

“We are disappointed to read the findings in the report that, based on the available evidence, there were failings in fulfilling those responsibilities, particularly in the context of seeking and/or receiving appropriate consents.” The letter was first reported in current edition of The Sunday Times.

However, it said that each of the trials described in the report was “bona fide and undertaken for the purpose of legitimate medical and scientific investigation into improvements to essential childhood vaccines and in one trial, infant milk products”. The company pointed to a finding in the commission’s report that “no adverse injuries were experienced by children involved in these trials”.

It said that while the report’s findings are “extremely upsetting” they do not question Wellcome and Glaxo’s responsibilities and duties in “developing, manufacturing and supplying vaccines for the purposes described above”.

“For this reason, we do not propose to pay reparations in response to the issues raised in the report,” the company’s general manager for Ireland, Eimear Caslin, wrote to Mr O’Gorman. Ms Caslin said that the company recognised that “former residents are understandably seeking to access their personal information”.

The commission identified 13 vaccine trials that took place between 1922 and 1998, as well as clinical trials of non-commercial infant milk products in 1968 and 1969. A company spokeswoman said it sought a meeting with Mr O’Gorman following its letter, and it has been scheduled for later this month.

Mr O’Gorman, in his letter of last month, said that former residents, their families and supporters, had raised a number of concerns with him, “including their sincerely held view that reparations should be forthcoming from GSK.”

“To this end, we propose to set up a dedicated and confidential information service to assist in responding to questions from former residents and their families,” Ms Caslin wrote, saying that GSK is “keen” to work with the Department of Children on this proposal.

She wrote that GSK “deeply sympathise(s) with all the former residents of mother and baby homes in Ireland. The Commission of Investigation’s report makes for distressing reading and sheds light on the hardship and suffering of innocent women and children”.